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Amid concerns that consumers would begin pulling back on their spending, the back-to-school season started with a bang as consumers hit the stores in July to take advantage of promotions on apparel, electronics and school supplies.
According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) in July increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“In a week of stock market volatility, retail continues to be a steadying force in the economic recovery,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Consumers are showing that they still have spending power, and with a renewed focus on job creation we are optimistic this recovery can still get back on track.”
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added: “July retail sales make one important point clear – it’s very hard to ignore the resilience of the American consumer. Retailers’ promotions hit the right chord with back-to-school shoppers last month, helping ease concerns that consumers were pulling back on spending, which so far has been a driving force in the economic recovery.”
July retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 6.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Retailers promoting traditional back-to-school items reaped the benefits of eager summer shoppers. Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over June and a solid 6.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at electronic and appliance stores increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but decreased 0.7 percent unadjusted from last year.
Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over June and 2.1 percent unadjusted year over year.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies stores sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 3.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.